Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For September 06/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.
Luke 10/13-16: "‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’"

نشرات اخبار عربية وانكليزية مطولة ومفصلة يومية على موقعنا الألكتروني على الرابط التالي

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Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 05-06/18
Israeli Jets Fly Over Lebanon in Rare Daytime Raid on Syria/Associated Press/September 05/18
Lebanon in need of strategy to preserve Palestinian refugees' right of return: expert/Georgi Azar/Annahar/September 05/2018
US Sanctions Will Cripple The Economy Of Iran Says Economists/Jerusalem Post/September 05/18
Analysis/Israel Signals Lull in Syria Strikes Is Over, Resuming Military Action Against Iran/Amos Harel/Haaretz/September 05/18
Turkey Missed Its Chance to Stop This Emergency/Marcus Ashworth/Bloomberg/September 05/18
Journalist Paralyzed, Gravely Ill in Turkish Prison/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/September 05/18
Missing in Action: The American Flag on the Moon/David C. Stolinsky/Gatestone Institute/September 05/18
Trump gives Iran the opportunity to set a new direction/Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/September 05/18
Israel’s threat and the birth of a Baghdad government/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Arab News/September 05/18
Russia flexes muscles with post-World Cup ‘uncoiling’/Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/September 05/18
Will the Iranian regime survive people pressure, differences among officials/Hamid Bahrami//Al Arabiya/September 05/18
Has Turkey made a shift in Idlib/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 05/18
Is Iran pursuing the breakup of the United Kingdom/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/September 05/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 05-06/18
U.S. State Department Issues New Travel Advisory on Lebanon
Lebanon: US Vetoes 'Hezbollah Promotion' in Next Cabinet
Lebanon Denies Transfer of Iranian Weapons to Hezbollah via Beirut Airport
Lebanese Financial Markets React Negatively to Govt. Formation Impasse
Hariri's Format Gives LF Education, Justice, Agriculture and Culture Portfolios
Berri Urges 'Everyone' to Offer Concessions, Says Economy 'in Intensive Care'
Lebanon in ‘intensive care, economy very dangerous’: Berri
Hariri Says He's Not 'Crazy' to Step Down
LF Warns of 'National Crisis', Slams FPM for 'Antagonizing All Parties'
Int'l Community Warns Lebanon over Govt. Deadlock
Israeli Jets Fly over Lebanon in Rare Daytime Raid on Syria
Former President Amine Gemayel Addresses Transnational Terrorism at New Delhi Conference
Israeli Jets Fly Over Lebanon in Rare Daytime Raid on Syria
Lebanon in need of strategy to preserve Palestinian refugees' right of return: expert

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 05-06/18
Russia Confirms Air Strikes on Syria's Idlib
Trump to Chair UN Security Council Meeting on Iran
Iranian Rial Hits Record Low at 150,000 to Dollar
Iranian Assembly of Experts Chairman Warns Against Trump-Rouhani Meeting
Tehran Summit Expected to Seal Fate of Syria's Idlib
France Calls for Political Solution in Idlib as Iran Seeks ‘Least Human Cost’ in Battle
Iraq forces open fire during new clashes with protesters
Basra Set on Fire, Authorities Impose Curfew
Jordanian Business Delegation Visits Damascus as Wait Continues to Reopen Nassib Crossing
Abbas Intends to Declare a ‘Palestinian State under Occupation’
Israeli Intelligence: No knowledge of Trump ordering Assad killed
Egypt Targets Growth by 6% in 2018, Reducing Deficit to 8.4%
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Defrocks Monk, Expels Another
Israeli Court Greenlights Demolition of West Bank Village
UK Seeks Two Russians over Spy Poisoning
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 05-06/18
U.S. State Department Issues New Travel Advisory on Lebanon 05th September 2018/The U.S. State Department called on its citizens to "reconsider or avoid travel to certain areas in Lebanon" because of the threats of terrorism, armed clashes, kidnapping, and outbreaks of violence, adding that U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should be aware of the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks. "U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Lebanon should be aware that consular officers from the U.S. Embassy are not always able to travel to assist them," reads the new travel advisory. "The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions." "The Lebanese government cannot guarantee the protection of U.S. citizens against sudden outbreaks of violence. Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with no warning," it added.
Lebanon: US Vetoes 'Hezbollah Promotion' in Next Cabinet
Beirut- Thaer Abbas/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/The United States has placed a decisive veto on any qualitative or quantitative increase of Hezbollah’s share in the next Cabinet, Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday. The sources said US officials had already informed Lebanese leaders that any increase of the party’s powers in the upcoming government would be confronted by a total American boycott, through sanctions on institutions governed by the party and a freeze of US planned aid to the Lebanese Army. Hezbollah publicly demands to receive two portfolios in the next cabinet, including the Ministry of Health and another services ministry. However, the sources said the US warnings would constitute an obstacle facing Hezbollah’s new demands. Therefore, they said, the Party would have two choices: to either accept to receive the same portfolios it has in the current government (Ministry of Agriculture and of Youth and Sports), or reject that, which practically means obstructing the formation of the government. If Hezbollah receives the Ministry of Health, then “US pressures would automatically lead to the freeze of aids planned to the Ministry amounting to around $150 million,” the sources said. And, while the US Embassy in Beirut had issued no statements in this regard, Lebanese sources said the embassy had informed officials in Beirut that its official position had not changed from the one announced regarding previous governments. “Washington would automatically stop dealing with any ministry chaired by a Hezbollah member,” they explained. The US considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, the government formation process was hindered on Monday after President Michel Aoun announced some “observations” on the format of a ministerial formula presented Monday by Prime-Minister designate Saad Hariri. The President considered the formula as not respecting the principles and criteria that he had determined regarding the form of the government, as well as Lebanon's interest. On Tuesday, Hariri indirectly responded to Aoun’s observations, saying: “My prerogatives are clear in the constitution, full stop, this should not be the subject of debate.”Hariri added that if any political party thinks it is bigger than the country or the interest of the country, then this is the problem.

Lebanon Denies Transfer of Iranian Weapons to Hezbollah via Beirut Airport
Beijing- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/Lebanon’s Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday denied a report by the US Fox News channel that one of the Iranian airlines, Fars Qeshm Airlines, had smuggled weapons to Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut. The DGCA explained that Fars Qeshm Airlines had already submitted two requests to conduct two cargo flights between the airports of Tehran - Damascus - Beirut - Doha, confirming that the plane landed in Beirut twice empty: on July 9 and August 2. It noted that the plane took off to Doha on July 10, loaded with livestock. The same plane arrived on a second flight on August 2, coming from Tehran, and took off the next day filled with livestock after the approval of the Qatari civil aviation authorities on the cargo. The Fox News report claimed that Hezbollah and Iran smuggled arms and components for constructing arms into Lebanon on two flights operated by Iran’s Qeshm Fars Air earlier this year. It also alleged that on July 9, a Boeing 747 left Tehran and took an “uncharacteristic flight path,” stopping in Damascus before continuing on to Beirut, where it landed “shortly after 4 p.m. local time.” The report cited the flight-tracking smartphone app FlightRadar24 and Google Maps to support its claim. “Western intelligence sources said the airplane carried components for manufacturing precise weapons in Iranian factories inside Lebanon,” the report continued.

Lebanese Financial Markets React Negatively to Govt. Formation Impasse
Beirut - Ali Zeineddine/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/The Lebanese financial markets responded to the failure of Monday’s meeting between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to overcome obstacles hindering the formation of the new government, by recording further decline in the prices of traded shares and bonds.The continuous decline in prices for the third consecutive week did not result in a noticeable increase in demand, reflecting the expectation of institutions and individuals of further declines in the wake of the escalation of political disputes and the repercussions of regional developments on the domestic situation. The markets did not react favorably to the latest report of Standard & Poor's, which kept Lebanon’s rating at B-/B and a “stable” outlook for short and long-term government debt. This also underscores the strong impact of internal conditions on market performance and the focus on the Central Bank of Lebanon’s preventive measures.  The measures include financial engineering operations and the management of liquidity surpluses in Lebanese pounds, in addition to the continued provision of incentives to attract capital and foreign deposits in hard currencies to maintain high reserves of about $45 billion, in order to ensure monetary stability. The central bank seems to be moving towards more measures that cover the country’s financial needs and pay its dues without having to resort to direct issuances in international markets. International bond prices (eurobonds) further declined and tumbled on the first trading day of the week, to continue their downward trend, which was recorded last week, amidst foreign exposures on long-term securities and following a downward trend in bond prices in emerging markets. Local traders recorded a low demand for short-term securities without any significant price improvement. Shares on the Beirut Stock Exchange also went downward, with the listed market capitalization losing $100 million in two days to reach $9.861 billion.
Hariri's Format Gives LF Education, Justice, Agriculture and Culture Portfolios
Naharnet/September 05/18/The draft Cabinet line-up that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri presented to President Michel Aoun has surfaced in media reports although the premier has stressed its confidentiality. Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Wednesday that Hariri's format gives the Lebanese Forces the education, justice, agriculture and culture ministerial portfolios. The LF had insisted on getting five ministerial seats including a so-called sovereign portfolio. According to the daily, the other portfolios will be distributed as follows:
- Marada Movement: Public Works and Transportation
- Hizbullah: Health, State Minister and a yet to be allocated portfolio
- AMAL Movement: Finance and two other portfolios that are yet to be allocated
- Al-Mustaqbal Movement: Telecom, Interior, State Minister and three other portfolios
- Free Patriotic Movement and President: Energy, Foreign Affairs, Defense, 3 State Ministers, Deputy PM Post and three other portfolios
- Progressive Socialist Party: Social Affairs, State Minister and a yet to be allocated portfolio

Berri Urges 'Everyone' to Offer Concessions, Says Economy 'in Intensive Care'
Naharnet/September 05/18/Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday called on “everyone” to offer concessions to facilitate the stalled formation of the new government, as he issued an austere warning over the country's economic situation. “Any party cannot achieve what it wants in the government formation process and everyone, without exception, must offer concessions for the sake of the country in order to overcome this crisis,” Berri was quoted as saying during his weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting with lawmakers. “Today Lebanon is in the 'intensive care unit' and the economic situation is dangerous and cannot be overlooked, knowing that Lebanon is not Turkey or Iran,” Berri warned. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. His mission is being hampered by political wrangling over ministerial seats, especially over Christian and Druze representation.

Lebanon in ‘intensive care, economy very dangerous’: Berri
Reuters, Beirut/ Wednesday, 5 September 2018/Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday the country was in “intensive care” and the economic situation was “very dangerous”, according to a lawmaker who regularly speaks for him.
Four months after parliamentary elections, Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has not yet managed to form a national unity government, a delay that has raised fears for Lebanon’s highly-indebted economy. “Lebanon is in intensive care ... The economic situation is very serious,” Berri said, according to MP Ali Bazzi, from Berri’s Amal party. Hariri on Monday handed President Michel Aoun the “formula” for a new cabinet, but negotiations among lawmakers continue as key parties jostle over the allocation of ministries. Lebanon, which is used to lengthy cabinet negotiations, has the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio.The International Monetary Fund wants to see immediate and substantial fiscal adjustment to improve the sustainability of the public debt, which stood at over 150 percent of gross domestic product at the end of 2017.

Hariri Says He's Not 'Crazy' to Step Down
Naharnet/September 05/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has reiterated that he will not back down from the mission of forming a new government. “Am I crazy to offer them the gift of stepping down?” Hariri told one of al-Mustaqbal's caretaker ministers during the Movement's high-level meeting on Tuesday, al-Akhbar daily reported Wednesday. “The participants in the meeting understood that Hariri was awaiting an answer from the president within 48 hours (from the date of their Monday meeting), after which the Presidency is supposed to inform him of a date for a meeting with Aoun,” the newspaper said. During the meeting, the president will voice “fundamental remarks” over the “provisional format” for the distribution of ministerial portfolios that Hariri had presented to him on Monday, al-Akhbar added. Hariri on Tuesday defended the draft line-up as “convincing,” after Aoun's Strong Lebanon bloc criticized the format and warned of an attempt to "bypass the results of the parliamentary elections."The Presidency said Monday that Aoun voiced reservations over the line-up based on “the standards which he had announced and are necessary to achieve the country's interest.”

LF Warns of 'National Crisis', Slams FPM for 'Antagonizing All Parties'
Naharnet/September 05/18/The Lebanese Forces has warned that the government formation process has reached a “dead end,” cautioning that the country might descend “from a government crisis to a national crisis.”“Things have reached a dead end and it is not right to conceal the truth from the people: no government is looming in the horizon and vacuum will reign indefinitely, because someone is betting on something that we do not know,” LF sources told An Nahar newspaper in remarks published Wednesday. “All that we know is that this someone wants the formation of a government of victors and losers, a government that would curtail or exclude the LF and the Progressive Socialist Party. These attempts will not succeed and continued efforts in this direction will maintain the government deadlock,” the sources warned. The sources also cautioned that “this approach might push the country from a government crisis into a national crisis,” warning of the Free Patriotic Movement's recent and ongoing clashes with “the Shiite sect, the Sunni sect, the Druze sect and large segments of Christians.” Lebanese Forces deputy chief MP George Adwan had lashed out Tuesday at the apparent rejection of a Cabinet line-up that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri presented to President Michel Aoun, announcing that the LF will again insist on five ministerial seats including a so-called sovereign portfolio. Media reports said Hariri's format gives the LF the education, justice, agriculture and culture portfolios.

Int'l Community Warns Lebanon over Govt. Deadlock
Naharnet/September 05/18/The international community has warned Lebanon that planned aid could go to other countries should the government formation impasse continue, media reports said. “Senior diplomatic officials have told some (Lebanese) officials over the phone that the European Union and the United States, and even the United Nations, are dismayed by the current Lebanese situation and that if the government deadlock continues, aid earmarked for Lebanon could go to other countries,” al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. His mission is being hampered by wrangling over ministerial seats, especially over Christian and Druze representation.

Israeli Jets Fly over Lebanon in Rare Daytime Raid on Syria
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 05/18/Israeli jets flying high over Lebanon struck at targets inside Syria on Tuesday, Syrian state media reported, in a rare daytime raid that killed at least one person. Syria's SANA state news agency said the country's air defenses shot down five missiles, adding that one person was killed and 12 others were wounded. It reported strikes on the Wadi Ayoun area in the western Hama province and on the town of Baniyas in the coastal Tartous province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jets targeted military installations belonging to Iran, a key ally of the Syrian government. Lebanese residents in areas north of the capital Beirut reported hearing jets overhead before sunset. Israel is believed to be behind a string of strikes targeting government and allied military installations in Syria, in order to disrupt weapons transfers between its archenemies Iran and Lebanon's Hizbullah. The Israeli government rarely acknowledges the attacks, and such strikes usually take place late at night. An Israeli military official said Tuesday that Israel has struck over 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months. The official said the targets were connected to Iran's elite al-Quds force and include air force components, support infrastructure, and weapons storage and manufacturing facilities. The official said Tuesday's alleged airstrikes were not included in the tally. He would not confirm Israel was behind those strikes, and did not comment on them.
Former President Amine Gemayel Addresses Transnational Terrorism at New Delhi Conference 05th September 2018/Former President Amine Gemayel addressed the general situation in the regions of eastern Asia and north Africa, saying that the alignment of the countries in these two areas is based on regional axes led by Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as broader international axes led by the U.S. and Russia. Gemayel was speaking at the “Changing Security Paradigm in West Asia: Regional and International Responses” conference held in New Delhi by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
Gemayel also discussed the rapid rising of the ISIS phenomenon and its collapse, in addition to the disappearance of regimes in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The Former President urged an end to wars and terrorism, stressing the need for a serious and practical roadmap that would safeguard equilibrium in the region, as well as for dialogue that focuses on security issues.

Israeli Jets Fly Over Lebanon in Rare Daytime Raid on Syria
Associated Press/September 05/18
Israeli jets flying high over Lebanon struck at targets inside Syria on Tuesday, Syrian state media reported, in a rare daytime raid that killed at least one person. Syria's SANA state news agency said the country's air defenses shot down five missiles, adding that one person was killed and 12 others were wounded. It reported strikes on the Wadi Ayoun area in the western Hama province and on the town of Baniyas in the coastal Tartous province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jets targeted military installations belonging to Iran, a key ally of the Syrian government. Lebanese residents in areas north of the capital, Beirut, reported hearing jets overhead before sunset.
Israel is believed to be behind a string of strikes targeting government and allied military installations in Syria, in order to disrupt weapons transfers between its archenemies Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The Israeli government rarely acknowledges the attacks, and such strikes usually take place late at night. The Syrian government accused Israel of striking a weapons research facility in Masyaf, near Wadi Ayoun, in July. The attack killed a top military scientist. An Israeli military official said Tuesday that Israel has struck over 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said the targets were connected to Iran's elite Al-Quds force and include air force components, support infrastructure, and weapons storage and manufacturing facilities.
The official said Tuesday's alleged airstrikes were not included in the tally. He would not confirm Israel was behind those strikes, and did not comment on them. Elsewhere in Syria, at least eight people were killed in airstrikes in the northern Idlib province, where Syria's rebels are holed up in their last major bastion. Those strikes were likely carried out by the Syrian government or its allies, which are preparing for a major offensive.
The Syrian Civil Defense, volunteer first responders also known as the White Helmets, said five children were killed in strikes on the town of Jisr al-Shughour and another three civilians were killed in strikes on the village of Mahambal. The Observatory said 13 people were killed.
The Observatory blamed the strikes on Russia, which intervened in Syria's civil war in 2015 to support President Bashar Assad. Government forces are amassing at the border with Idlib province, while Russia revealed last week it had positioned more than a dozen ships off the Syrian coast, raising fears of a wide-scale offensive that could mark the last major battle in the seven-year civil war. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday the Security Council will discuss the situation in Idlib on Friday morning. The U.S. is currently the president of the council, the U.N.'s top decision-making body. The U.N.'s special envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, urged Russia and Turkey to reach a "soft solution" to avert an expected government offensive on the province.
Syria's government is determined to retake Idlib, which it says is being held hostage by terrorists. Russia and Iran, which also back the government, have adopted a similar position.Turkey, which has financed and organized rebels in Idlib and keeps 12 military posts in the province, has been less clear about where it stands. De Mistura, in a Geneva press conference, appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to prevent a showdown in Idlib, saying "we need more time." The leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Iran are slated to meet in Iran on Friday to discuss Syria. De Mistura said he heard from media reports that a campaign for Idlib could begin as early as the following Monday. It was not clear which reports he was referring to. The envoy restated his offer to travel to Idlib to oversee humanitarian corridors so that civilians can shelter in safety if an offensive moves forward.
There are 2.9 million people presently in Idlib, according to U.N. estimates, including 1.4 million who have been displaced from their homes by fighting. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have sheltered in the province, away from the government, to escape military conscription or arrest.
De Mistura said he was "determined" to hold talks with high-level envoys from Turkey, Iran and Russia on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. He also planned to meet with envoys from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States on Sept. 14 to brief them on his efforts to launch a political process and help set up a committee that could revise Syria's constitution.
Separately, the White House warned that the U.S. and its allies would "respond swiftly and appropriately" against the Syrian government if it uses chemical weapons in its assault. The U.S. has twice struck Syrian military installations in response to alleged poison gas attacks. The Syrian government denies ever using chemical weapons. President Donald Trump on Monday sent a tweet warning the Syrian government and its allies against a "reckless attack" on Idlib, drawing fire from Moscow. Russia says militants in Idlib target its own facilities in Syria and pose a terrorist threat.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated Russia's position on Tuesday, calling Idlib a "hornets' nest of terrorists."Asked about Trump's tweet, Peskov said such warnings do not consider "the dangerous and negative potential" of the rebel-held enclave and show that the White House does not have a "comprehensive approach" to solving the Syria crisis.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has spoken to the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey about the impending operation in recent days, repeated the Trump administration's warning for Syria and its allies to tread carefully around Idlib. He acknowledged that "terrorists" are present in the city, but stressed that an all-out assault is unwise, notably because it would badly affect civilians. "The humanitarian crisis that could be here is different," he told reporters on his plane accompanying him to Pakistan and India. "Many of the people who fled these other de-escalation zones fled to this location. There's no place for these people to go," he said.
Lebanon in need of strategy to preserve Palestinian refugees' right of return: expert
Georgi Azar/Annahar/September 05/2018
Earlier this week, the Trump administration decided to end all funding to UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian humanitarian assistance, before informing key regional governments of the dramatic move.
BEIRUT: In the wake of the U.S cutting its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Lebanese officials should seek to implement a comprehensive policy to maintain the refugee status of Palestinians according to Ziad Sayegh, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of State For Displaced Affairs. Earlier this week, the Trump administration decided to end all funding to UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian humanitarian assistance, before informing key regional governments of the dramatic move. In response, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil scrambled to meet with ambassadors of UNRWA host and donor nations while condemning the United States' move as an attempt to deny the return of Palestinians.
Bassil reportedly riled up foreign support to the cause in an attempt to cover costs laid bare by the U.S' withdrawal.
The U.S had been the biggest supporter of UNRW, providing it with some $350 million a year, but as part of a batch of cuts given in foreign aid given to Palestinians, the Trump administration decided in January to withhold $65 million to the relief agency.
In a statement released Saturday following another $300 million cut, the U.S State Department's spokesperson Heather Nauert said that UNRWA's "endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years".But shoring up financial support to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees is simply not enough, Sayegh argues.
The decision to cut funding is two-fold, on one hand, the cutoff is seen as leverage to force the Palestinians to negotiate a peace deal with Israel, on the other, it is an attempt to resettle and integrate the refugees into Lebanese society, Sayegh says. Despite the EU, Ireland, Jordan and Germany pledging further support, and Speaker Nabih Berri calling for a meeting by the Arab League with the intention of garnering funds for UNRWA, funding for the agency should not be borne solely by regional actors, Sayegh says.  By doing so, the plight of Palestinian refugees would remain in the international spotlight and their refugee status maintained, while the organizational structure of UNRWA should be overhauled to avoid unnecessary financial drainage. According to estimates, the UNRAW's total budget is equally split between aid, and organizational expenses, which led Nauert to criticize the agency’s “fundamental business model and fiscal practices.” Another hindering block is the recent census conducted by the Lebanese Central Administration of Statistics and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics which found that Lebanon is home to around 174,422 Palestinian refugees, a number significantly below the official mark of UNRWA. The number was not contested by Lebanese officials, given that more than 450,000 are registered with UNRWA, further complicating their claim to the funds. This, officials say, is due to a large number of Palestinians now residing abroad, mainly in GCC countries. Created in 1949 following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, UNRWA operates schools and provides health care and other social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
September 05-06/18
Russia Confirms Air Strikes on Syria's Idlib
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 05/18/The Russian military on Wednesday confirmed air strikes were carried out on Syria's last major rebel stronghold Idlib with warplanes targeting the "terrorist" al-Nusra Front on Tuesday. "Four planes of the Russian group at the Khmeimim airbase inflicted strikes by high-precision weapons on objects of the al-Nusra Front terrorist group in the Idlib province," the Russian military's spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. He said the strikes were conducted on September 4 "during the dark time of day," without specifying if it was early morning or night time. "The strike was conducted on terrorist stockpiles located outside residential areas, where unmanned aerial vehicles were stored, Konashenkov said. A warehouse which stored portable air-defense systems and drone launch zones for attacks on Russia's Khmeimim airbase and towns in provinces Aleppo and Hama were also targeted, he added. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that at least nine civilians, including five children from the same family, were killed in the Russian raids, while 10 more people were wounded.
Trump to Chair UN Security Council Meeting on Iran
New York - Ali Barada/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/US President Donald Trump is set to chair a United Nations Security Council meeting on Iran on September 26 on the margins of the 73rd General Assembly, which is set to kick off on September 18 in New York. "He is calling the meeting to address Iran’s violations of international law," said US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley at a press conference Tuesday. She added that the meeting will also address the “instability” Iran is sowing throughout the Middle East region. As her country is set to chair the Security Council in September, Haley on Tuesday held talks with member-states to discuss the council’s agenda. “There is a growing concern about Iran. Some are old things, some are new things,” she remarked. Asharq Al-Awsat learned that she informed her counterparts that the “meeting is planned to be open and public” and pledged to offer further details on the nearest occasion. A high-ranking diplomat at the Security Council told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US ambassador did not mention that Trump would chair any other meeting. The diplomat said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could attend the talks because it is focused on his country. Another diplomat said: “It would be interesting if Rouhani attends a UN meeting chaired by Trump.”Furthermore, he revealed that Haley had informed her counterparts that Washington is not seeking to issue any UN resolution or statement on Iran. The September meeting comes after the Trump administration withdrew in May from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. Iran’s foreign minister said in August that US and Iranian officials would not meet at the UN General Assembly.

Iranian Rial Hits Record Low at 150,000 to Dollar
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/The Iranian rial hit a record low against the US dollar on Wednesday, amid a deterioration in the economy and re-imposition of US sanctions. According to foreign-exchange websites, the rial slid to around 150,000 to the dollar. The dollar was being offered for 150,000 rials, compared with about 138,000 rials on Tuesday, according to website, which tracks the unofficial market. The website also quoted 150,000. gave an exchange rate of 152,530. “Prices are witnessing an upswing,” ISNA news agency said Tuesday in a report on the developments in the Iranian market. Due to Iran’s weak economy, currency has been volatile for months accompanied by financial difficulties at local banks and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who fear the pullout of Washington from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal and renewed US sanctions could shrink Iran’s exports of oil and other goods. Last week, parliament sacked Finance Minister Masoud Karbasian, and in August, lawmakers voted out Labor Minister Ali Rabiei. A month before, President Hassan Rouhani replaced the head of the central bank. Last December, demonstrations against the poor economy spread in over 80 cities and towns and resulted in 25 deaths. Protests, led by truck drivers, farmers and merchants in Tehran’s bazaar, have continued since then and have occasionally resulted in violent confrontations with security forces.

Iranian Assembly of Experts Chairman Warns Against Trump-Rouhani Meeting

London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/Iranian Assembly of Experts Chairman Ahmad Jannati warned on Tuesday against a possible meeting between President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, which will be held from September 18-25. Jannati added that Europe is not helping to preserve the nuclear accord between Iran and world powers by demanding additional talks on issues like Tehran's ballistic missiles The Assembly is one of the most powerful bodies in the country, as it has the power to select and dismiss Iran’s supreme leader. It is a group of 88 conservative clerics and began its two-day semi-annual meeting on Tuesday.
In his speech, Jannati criticized European calls for discussions on Iran’s ballistic missiles and role in the region. "Europe has announced that they won't leave the deal. In practice, by bringing up a discussion of missiles and other issues, they are not following an appropriate path," he was quoted as saying. Referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s recent remarks, the top cleric called on Europeans to "prove good will". Jannati went on to say that the US and its allies want to harm the country, however, Iran will resist and turn the sanctions into opportunities. He said it is a “vicious plot” by the enemy to attribute problems to the supreme leader, noting that Khamenei is seeking the “implementation of plans in order to solve the country’s problems”. On Tuesday, Khamenei's official website published part of his speech during a meeting with members of the Iranian government last week. He referred to a telephone conversation coinciding with the start of the nuclear negotiations between Rouhani and former US President Barack Obama on September 27, 2013. He said "the White House held celebrations after the telephone call," while not disclosing how he acquired this information. "There is no need for any negotiations with them [US officials]. Not just the president but the foreign and intelligence ministers as well,” Khamenei said.
On August 30, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that Iran and world powers "must talk" on certain "subjects that worry" the West. The minister asserted that Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry Europe, such as the future of Iran's nuclear commitments after 2025, the ballistic issue and the fact there is a “sort of ballistic proliferation on the part of Iran...and the role Iran plays to stabilize the whole region.”In May, Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. The other signatory countries: China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany are trying to find ways to salvage the deal. Last month, the European Union approved a $21 million aid to Iran to compensate the impact of US sanctions as part of efforts to save the deal. On Sunday, Reformist Iranian leader Mehdi Karroubi called on the Assembly of Experts to confront the “despotism” of the supreme leader. Karroubi, a Green Movement opposition leader, has called upon the assembly to hold Khamenei accountable for three decades of policies that have pushed the country to its current situation.
He said the constitution needs another amendment in favor of putting the ruling establishment under the nation’s supervision and forever end the era of power being monopolized by a single individual. Karoubi said Khamenei should explain the reasons behind the involvement of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Basij and police in banking and oil trade. “I explicitly say that under such management, the country has been pushed back to the pre-Constitution Qajar dynasty era,” he wrote.
Tehran Summit Expected to Seal Fate of Syria's Idlib
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 05/18/The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet Friday in Tehran for a summit expected to shape the future of Idlib province, home to Syria's last major rebel bastion. The summit comes as Syrian forces look poised to launch a major assault that is raising fears of a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not yet seen in the seven-year-old conflict. Damascus and its main backer Moscow have vowed to root out the jihadist groups that dominate Idlib province but the outcome of Friday's meeting could determine the scope and the timing of an offensive.
"We know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready to solve this problem," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the last major chunk of Syrian territory still in rebel hands.
Turkey has limited sway over the jihadist groups that control an estimated 60 percent of Idlib but it backs rebel groups there and has 12 military "observation points" across the province. Russia, Turkey and Iran are the guarantors of the Astana process, a track of negotiations that has eclipsed the older Geneva process and de facto helps Syrian President Bashar al-Assad re-assert his authority on the country. In parallel to the Syrian government's military buildup, the recent weeks have seen intense diplomatic activity. Al-Watan, a Syrian daily close to the government, wrote on Monday that the result of the talks will be presented in Tehran for the three powers "to endorse it and decide on the 'zero hour' for the Syrian army's military operation, which is expected to immediately follow the summit."Idlib is a cul-de-sac for many rebels and civilians transferred there after previous regime assaults.
Inevitable assault?
The United Nations and aid groups have warned that a full assault could spark one of the worst disasters of a conflict that has already killed 350,000 people and displaced 11 million in seven years. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the armed groups in Idlib attacking Syrian government positions and Russia's air base in nearby Hmeimim should be eliminated. At stake in Tehran is the scope of the offensive and Lavrov said Tuesday that efforts were being made to separate "regular armed oppositionists from terrorists." The main target of an offensive would be the jihadist fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist alliance dominated by the former Syrian branch of al-Qaida. Russia wants Turkey to use its influence on the ground in Idlib to rein in the rebels and the jihadists. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu appeared to suggest Monday there will still room for negotiation ahead of the summit and a promised offensive. "We are continuing contacts before the summit and preparing it to make sure it yields a good outcome," he said. The International Crisis Group insisted a devastating offensive in Idlib could and should still be averted, calling this week on all brokers to go back to negotiations. It said Russia needed to be convinced that backing an all-out Syria offensive risked undermining its own long-term objectives, which include the "re-legitimation" of Assad and his regime. The think tank said the three Astana guarantors should thrash out a plan that would satisfy some of Moscow's key demands. ICG cited "intensified Turkish efforts to rid the area of jihadists, an end to drone attacks on Russia's (Hmeimim) air base and regime control over Idlib's key highways."
France Calls for Political Solution in Idlib as Iran Seeks ‘Least Human Cost’ in Battle
Abu Dhabi, Tehran, Berlin – Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Tuesday for keeping the door open for a political solution in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib as the regime prepared to launch an offensive on the opposition-held region. He stated during a trip to Abu Dhabi that the Syrian regime and its backers “sense that they have won the war, but a war cannot be won if peace is not reached.”He told Agence France Presse that “it is important today that the path to negotiations be open and not towards confrontation otherwise we will be headed towards tragedy.”Half of Idlib’s 3 million people have already fled there from their homes in other parts of Syria, according to the United Nations, and any offensive threatens new displacement and human misery. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to Syria, told Iranian state television that efforts are focused on achieving the exit of armed factions “with the least human cost.”He said Idlib would be a major subject of discussion at a September 7 summit of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was discussing joint action with Russia to target extremist groups in Idlib while avoiding a full-scale offensive. Ankara last week added Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to its list of designated terrorist groups. Russian and Syrian regime jets resumed air strikes on Idlib on Tuesday. The warplanes bombarded countryside around Jisr al-Shughour on the western edge of Idlib after weeks of lull, killing 13 civilians but no fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and an opposition source.
Iraq forces open fire during new clashes with protesters
AFP, Basra/Wednesday, 5 September 2018/Iraqi security forces in the southern city of Basra opened fire Wednesday as they clashed with protesters a day after six people were killed in demonstrations over poor public services. An AFP journalist reported gunshots and tear gas were fired by security personnel as they faced off with several thousand demonstrators outside the regional government headquarters. The measures failed to disperse protesters, who responded by hurling Molotov cocktails and letting off fireworks at the security forces. Basra and the surrounding province have been the focus of angry demonstrations over government neglect that have rocked Iraq since early July. Residents are particularly angry over pollution of the local water supply, which has put 20,000 people in hospital. An injured protester lies in a hospital in Basra, Iraq September 5, 2018. On Tuesday six demonstrators were killed and more than 20 wounded during the bloodiest day of clashes with security officials, a local official and medics said. The authorities said that 30 security personnel were wounded in the violence. The United Nations envoy to Iraq has called for “calm” in Basra and urged the authorities “to avoid using disproportionate, lethal force against the demonstrators”. In his weekly press conference in Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he had ordered “no real bullets ... to be fired, in the direction of protesters or in the air”. Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr said in a tweet ahead of the latest clashes that “vandals infiltrated” the protesters. Sadr’s political bloc won the largest number of seats in national elections held in May, and he is trying to form a new government with Abadi. In July, the government announced a multi-billion dollar (euro) emergency plan for southern Iraq, to revive infrastructure and services. But protesters are wary of promises made by the outgoing government, as negotiations drag on over the formation of the next administration.

Basra Set on Fire, Authorities Impose Curfew
Baghdad, Basra- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/The security situation in the southern city of Basra flared on Tuesday when thousands of Iraqis staged angry protests demanding clean water, electricity, services, and employment.
The protests were further fueled by the killing of a former fighter of the Popular Mobilization Forces member on Monday. Reports said hundreds of Basra residents participated in his funeral Tuesday. Also, protestors set fire to part of the city governorate’s building, clashing with security forces. Wednesday’s events left dozens of casualties and injuries. Mahdi al-Tamimi, the local head of Iraq’s Human Rights Commission, said that six protesters were killed and more than 20 were injured until Wednesday night, accusing security forces of directly opening fire on protestors. “We call on the Iraqi judiciary to open an immediate and urgent investigation into the killing of a demonstrator who was shot in the shoulder and subjected to electric shocks by security forces,” Tamimi said in a statement, Reuters reports. In a step to calm the situation, officials in the southern province imposed a curfew in Basra. Reports said protestors have also laid siege to the governorate building in Basra from three sides. Despite being fiercely confronted by security forces, protestors were able to enter the building and set several parts of it on fire. Separately, the new Iraqi parliament met again on Wednesday but failed to reach any results in the absence of a majority of deputies. The eldest lawmaker member, Mohammed Ali Zayni, who temporarily chairs the newly-elected parliament, said he is giving deputies until September 15 to elect a new speaker. The decision comes as each of the country’s competing political blocs claim to hold the majority to form the largest alliance, which will have the right to form the next government. On Wednesday, Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc, which includes the Victory alliance of outgoing Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, and his rival, former PM Nuri al-Maliki and head of an alliance of pro-Iranian parties, Hadi al-Ameri were referred to the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq to decide which of the two blocs will be declared the largest. The parliament session was suspended awaiting the court's response.

Jordanian Business Delegation Visits Damascus as Wait Continues to Reopen Nassib Crossing
Amman – Mohammed al-Daameh/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/An 80-member Jordanian business delegation kicked off on Tuesday a visit to Damascus to hold talks with regime officials and representatives of the private sector.Discussions will focus on bolstering trade and economic cooperation and organizing bilateral business meetings to pave the way for trade and investment partnerships that will benefit both countries. These efforts will precede the reopening of the vital Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan. The Syrian market is important for Jordan given that it is a route that takes it to Lebanon and the European Union. Jordanian parliament Speaker Atef al-Tarawneh said that efforts have been ongoing to reopen the Nassib crossing. He also cited security coordination between Amman and Moscow over the possibility of returning Syrian refugees, hosted by Jordan, to their homes.
A Jordanian media delegation was expected to head with the businessmen to Damascus, but regime authorities barred them from traveling saying the visit was strictly between the business officials. Meanwhile, a Jordanian security source stated that the reopening of border crossings with Syria needed a political decision. Damascus has yet to make such a request. He expressed Amman’s concerns over the reopening of the Nassib crossing, explaining that the authorities want to work with the regime, not Iranian, Afghan or Lebanese militias. Should the crossing be opened, then priority will be placed on trade and goods exchange in the free zone between the two countries, similar to a zone that was set up on Jordanian-Iraqi border, he continued. Concerned Jordanian companies had in July started renovating their offices on the Jaber crossing in anticipation of an official announcement that it will be reopened.

Abbas Intends to Declare a ‘Palestinian State under Occupation’

Ramallah - Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas intends to declare the establishment of the Palestinian state, in one of the most important decisions he takes within a very short period of time, well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. The sources confirmed that Abbas has informed Palestinian officials of the decision, and said he might make it at the next central council meeting, which is scheduled to be held after delivering his speech at the United Nations. This month, Abbas will deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly where he will asked for full-fledged Palestinian membership and stress that the time has come for transferring the Palestinian Authority to a state. The central council is set to meet in October at the latest. The sources said that the president “intends to declare a Palestinian state under the occupation, after declaring that the Oslo Agreement is practically over.” But Palestinian official Wassel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the issue had not yet matured. “As the Central Committee has decided, the agreements must now be eliminated, and this will necessarily mean the end of Oslo,” he said. “The end of Oslo means the end of both the transitional period and the role of the PA and turning it into a state… But frankly, this needs additional time… and mechanisms for implementation.” The Palestinian Central Council set up a plan to confront the United States, beginning with a request for full membership in the United Nations, then suspending recognition of Israel and abandoning all agreements with it. In order for a country to become a member state in the United Nations, it should be supported by nine of the 15 UN Security Council members, provided that the veto is not used by one or more of the five permanent members. Palestine received an observer status at the United Nations in 2012, when 138 countries voted in favor of the draft resolution at the time, while nine opposed it and 41 abstained from voting.

Israeli Intelligence: No knowledge of Trump ordering Assad killed
Reuters, Jerusalem/Wednesday, 5 September 2018/Israel’s intelligence minister said on Wednesday he had no knowledge of close ally US President Donald Trump ever ordering the killing of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. A new book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, “Fear: Trump in the White House”, says Trump told his defense secretary that he wanted to have Assad assassinated in response to a chemical attack on Syrian civilians in April 2017. The book said James Mattis, the defense secretary, told Trump he would “get right on it” but instead developed a plan for a limited air strike that did not threaten Assad personally. Trump tweeted that quotes attributed to Mattis were “made up frauds, a con on the public”. Mattis dismissed the book as “a uniquely Washington brand of literature”. “I do not know of any such instruction. He (Trump) is also denying it, by the way,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Tel Aviv radio station. “In any event, what can be said is that in the framework of the coordination between the United States and Israel ... the subject of the Syrian regime is certainly part of the discussions. Israel did not take a decision to topple Assad.”While formally neutral on the 7-year civil war in neighboring Syria, Israel has carried out scores of air strikes against suspected attempts by Assad’s Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies to set up permanent posts or advanced arms. Under decades of Assad family rule, Syria has maintained a Cold War-style hostility toward Israel. Katz said Israel did not see a better alternative to Assad among Syrian rebel groups. “Of course his (Assad’s) actions are terrible actions, and something that we abhor and condemn. Those opposing him, ISIS and others, are not a side that we think are better. We took care to preserve our interests,” Katz said. Woodward gained national fame for his reporting on the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, and has since written a number of books that provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of presidential administrations and other Washington institutions. For this book, Woodward spoke to top aides and other insiders with the understanding that he would not reveal how he got his information, said the Washington Post, which published excerpts from the book on Tuesday.

Egypt Targets Growth by 6% in 2018, Reducing Deficit to 8.4%
Cairo/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/The Egyptian economy is expected to grow by about 5.7 to six percent this fiscal year compared to 5.3 percent in 2017, according to Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait. Maait pointed out that the Egyptian economy has a strong ability to attract investment, in addition to the government efforts to reduce unemployment. The new growth forecast for the fiscal year 2018-2019, which began on July 1, is 0.2 percent higher than the previous estimate of 5.8 percent. “Egypt is targeting a budget deficit of 8.4 percent of GDP for the 2018-19 fiscal year that ends in June, compared with 9.8 percent in the previous year,” the minister noted. “Our economy has grown faster than we’ve expected, our GDP has grown faster than the falling of our debt,” he added. He stated that the Egyptian government has recently sought to attract investments through many actions, including improving infrastructure through road projects and others. “We are working to overcome all obstacles for investors by developing the tax system to become easier and less burdensome in order support competition and encourage the private sector as we develop the customs law to suit global competitiveness,” he stressed.Egypt has been working to improve efficiency, and the government has been giving priority to improving citizen service, providing social insurance coverage and encouraging the private sector to contribute to development more in the coming years, according to Maait.
Providing energy supplies is a top priority on the government agenda through diversifying energy resources and securing all citizens' needs, he said. On the other hand, the minister stated that “the global financial crisis in 2008 had a negative impact on the Egyptian economy, but the country was able to overcome it, praising the performance of the banking sector at the time. He explained that there are challenges facing the economy and must be dealt with. He stressed the need to increase the productivity of the economy, in addition to the need to attract investment and encourage the private sector to implement projects. “The budget needs reduction in the public debt, which is stated in the strategy to be presented by the Ministry of Finance to the government, which includes public debt management,” he further noted.

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Defrocks Monk, Expels Another
Cairo- Mohammed Nabil Helmi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church officially announced on Tuesday the suspension of a monk and the permanent expelling of another, both from the controversial Abu Makar monastery that witnessed the murder of two working monks last July. The Monastic Committee, headed by the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawardos II, decided to defrock monk Yacoub al-Makary, who founded a monastery without church permission, and reinstated his civil name Wahba Atallah. Church magazine al-Kiraza published the Monastic Committee’s decisions after their meeting on August 28 to follow up on several decisions issued a month ago to control the monasteries. Atallah did not respond to all attempts by bishops to resolve the crisis, as the monastery was established without church consent and deviated from proper monastic behavior. The monk’s criticisms came after the murder of Bishop Epiphanius, the head of the Saint Macarius Monastery, with two monks being tried over the crime. On July 29, Bishop Epiphanius was found dead outside his residence in the monastery. Prosecution investigated 145 monks at the monastery. The killing of Epiphanius inside the monastery caused an unprecedented storm that was followed by decisive measures by Pope Tawardos II, who decided in the wake of the incident to suspend the monks. Both monks were banned from appearing in the media for any given reason, and were given a month to terminate any account on social networking sites such as Facebook. However, Makary was suspended for a year for having criticized Pope Shenouda III in an audio recording posted on YouTube, blaming him for the divisions in the Saint Macarius Monastery at Wadi al-Natroun since 2010. The official council of the church explained that the temporarily suspended monk “committed, in addition to his media appearance, an offense related to the abuse of Coptic Copts Shenouda III.”

Israeli Court Greenlights Demolition of West Bank Village
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 5 September, 2018/Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld an order to raze a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, after debating petitions challenging the decision. "We reject the petitions" against the directive to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, the supreme court panel said in its ruling, adding that a temporary order preventing the razing of the village during court hearings "will be cancelled within seven days from today." The present village consists mainly of makeshift structures of tin and wood, as is generally the case with Bedouin sites.
In May, the Supreme Court rejected a final appeal against its demolition after nine years of hearings before various tribunals. The fate of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, has drawn heavy international attention, with the United Nations and others expressing grave concern, and has become a rallying cry for the Palestinians, whose leaders have gathered there to protest its planned demolition. Israel claims the village, an encampment of corrugated shacks outside the Kfar Adumim settlement, was illegally built and has offered to resettle residents 12 kilometers, about 7 miles, away. But critics say it's impossible for Palestinians to get building permits and that the demolition is meant to make room for an Israeli settlement. The three judges hearing the appeal said they were presented no evidence to warrant overturning the previous verdict and there was no question over the illegality of the construction on the site. Activists say the villagers had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits that are almost never issued to Palestinians in the large parts of the West Bank where Israel has full control over civil affairs. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who oversees the occupation of the West Bank, praised the judges for their decision in the face of "the coordinated hypocrisy attack by (Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas) Abu Mazen, the left and European states." "No one is above the law. No one can stop us from implementing our sovereignty and responsibility as a state," he said. The village is in the 60 percent of the West Bank known as Area C, which remains under exclusive Israeli control and is home to dozens of Israeli settlements. Israel places severe restrictions on Palestinian development there and home demolitions are not unusual. As part of interim peace deals in the 1990s, the West Bank was carved up into autonomous and semi-autonomous Palestinian areas, known as Areas A and B, and Area C, which is home to some 400,000 Israeli settlers. The Palestinians say that Area C, home to an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Palestinians, is crucial to the economic development of their future state. Israel says the structures that make up the Khan al-Ahmar encampment, which include an Italian-funded school, pose a threat to residents because of their proximity to a highway. But critics have dismissed this claim as a ploy to remove the village's 180 or so residents to clear the way for new Jewish settlements.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' office has called on Israel to abandon its plans and said the destruction of private property by an occupying power violates international law.The West Bank's Arab Bedouin are a small, impoverished minority among the broader Palestinian population. Like many other Bedouin encampments, residents of Khan al-Ahmar live in corrugated shacks or tents, often without electricity or running water, and raise livestock. The Palestinian ministry of education recently decided to start the school year early for 170 elementary students in Khan al-Ahmar and four nearby Bedouin communities to try and preempt any Israeli move.
UK Seeks Two Russians over Spy Poisoning
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 05/18/British prosecutors said Wednesday they have a European arrest warrant for two Russians suspected of a nerve agent attack on a former spy in the city of Salisbury. Police identified Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as the men who allegedly tried to kill Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with Novichok in March. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it would not apply for their extradition, as Russia has made clear in previous cases that it did not extradite its nationals.
"We have, however, obtained a European arrest warrant (EAW)," said CPS director of legal services, Sue Hemming. "(This) means that if either man travels to a country where an EAW is valid, they will be arrested and face extradition on these charges for which there is no statute of limitations," which means the charges never expire. London and its allies blamed the Russian state for the attack, sparking a wave of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions on both sides, while the U.S. imposed sanctions. A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday it had no knowledge of Petrov or Boshirov, and accused British authorities of manipulating information in the case. "We once again call on the British side to switch from public accusations and manipulating information to practical cooperation through law enforcement agencies," Russian news agencies quoted spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.
Travelling under aliases
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of London's Metropolitan Police -- Britain's top counter-terrorism officer -- said the two suspects were believed to be in their 40s. "It is likely that they were traveling under aliases and that these are not their real names," he said. Basu added that photos of the men were being made public in the hope that a member of the public will recognize them. He said the pair flew into London's Gatwick Airport from Moscow two days before the Salisbury attack, on Friday, March 2, and stayed at a hotel in the east of the capital.
They paid a day-trip to Salisbury, a sleepy city in the southwest of England, on the Saturday to carry out reconnaissance. They returned the following day, when they are believed to have smeared Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, on Skripal's front door. They then returned to London and flew back to Moscow that evening from Heathrow Airport. The CPS said Petrov and Boshirov face charges of conspiracy to murder the ex-spy, and the attempted murder of Skripal, his daughter, and Nick Bailey, a policeman injured in the attack. They are also accused of using a banned chemical weapon and causing grievous bodily harm to Yulia Skripal and Bailey.
Found in a perfume bottle
Skripal was a colonel in Russian military intelligence who was jailed for betraying agents to Britain's MI6 security service. He moved to England in 2010 as part of a spy swap. The Skripals and Bailey both recovered from their poisoning. But on June 30, a British couple fell ill from the same type of nerve agent in the nearby town of Amesbury. One of them, 44-year-old mother of three Dawn Sturgess, died on July 8. Her partner Charlie Rowley had found a perfume bottle, falsely labeled as "Premier Jour" by Nina Ricci, which police said contained a "significant amount of Novichok." Rowley was also hospitalized but discharged, although he later went back to hospital and is being treated for meningitis and loss of eyesight. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a global watchdog, on Tuesday confirmed that Novichok was involved in their poisoning. British police said Wednesday the case is now part of the Skripal investigation. "We do not believe Dawn and Charlie were deliberately targeted, but became victims as a result of the recklessness in which such a toxic nerve agent was disposed of," Basu added.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 05-06/18
US Sanctions Will Cripple The Economy Of Iran Says Economists
Jerusalem Post/September 05/18
“The next round [of sanctions] begins on 4th November, aiming at the country’s economic lifeline – the oil industry – and will deliver a major blow to growth,” wrote Oxford economists. The slated US sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and financial sectors in early November will pulverize the Islamic Republic’s struggling economy, according to a new analysis released last week by economists. The organization Oxford Economics wrote that the second wave of US sanctions will hit Iran’s “oil industry and crude exports which form the backbone of the economy and the primary source of revenue and foreign currency for the government" and " will cripple the economy.”The UK-based global forecasting company wrote in its analysis: “We expect the sanctions to tip the economy back into recession, with GDP now seen contracting by 3.7% in 2019, the worst economic performance in six years.”
The US government re-imposed a first phase of sanctions on Iran in August that cover precious metals, the automobile sector and the use of US currency. Iran is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism, according to the US state department. “The next round [of sanctions] begins on 4th November, aiming at the country’s economic lifeline – the oil industry – and will deliver a major blow to growth,” wrote the economists Mohamed Bardastani and Maya Senussi from Oxford Economics.
The economists added the Islamic Republic “now has to ensure that the remaining key trading partners will continue buying its oil and not bow to US demands. The EU, Korea, Japan and UAE collectively accounted for 41% of the average 2.6 m[illion] b/d [barrels per day] Iran exported in the first half of 2018. As US allies, and under significant pressure from the US administration, they are all likely to cut down (if granted waivers by the US, which is unlikely with the hawkish US stance towards Iran) or completely halt their crude imports from Iran after November. President Trump said the US aims to bring Iranian exports down to zero…”
The goal of US President Donald Trump’s Iran strategy is to compel the clerical regime in Tehran to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that permanently bars Iran from building a nuclear weapons device. According to the Trump administration, the new, exhaustive agreement needs to end Iran’s terrorism in the Middle East and stop its missile program. The US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord in May, 2018 because of serious defects in the accord, said Trump. The Oxford Economics analysis views two countries—China and Turkey—that will seek to bust US sanctions by purchasing Iranian oil and engage in overall non-compliance with the penalties.
“The world’s second-largest economy [China] is the biggest single importer of Iranian oil, with an average of 675k b/d in H1 2018 or 26%,” wrote the economists. India is a wild card, according to the analysis. “The degree to which India will cut energy imports from Iran is least certain. The country is reportedly looking for alternative payment options to continue importing Iranian crude and avoid US sanctions. India and Turkey collectively accounted for 773k b/d of crude imports from Iran in H1 [first half] 2018,” noted the analysis. The Oxford Economics report depicted a bleak outcast for major economic indicators in the Islamic Republic. “The impact of the sanctions will not be confined to the oil industry and will weigh on all components of GDP on the expenditure side.”
The economists predict private consumption will plummet by 2% in 2019 because of rising inflation and a feeble currency.
“The official rate for the Iranian rial has depreciated by 18% since the start of the year, while the black-market rate has fallen 58%. Government revenue will take a marked blow from falling foreign currency earnings from oil exports and it will have to cut its spending; we see government consumption dropping by 3%,” the analysis noted. Oxford Economics expects “investment to decrease [in Iran] by 13% in 2019, as we have already seen big firms pulling out of the country… we expect exports and imports to decline by 16.2% and 10%, respectively, in 2019 as countries shy away from trading with Iran to avoid their own conflict with the US.” While noting that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “is still strong,” the economists wrote “The impact of the sanctions will spark further civil unrest and public discontent as Iranians struggle to cope with deteriorating economic conditions, increasing unemployment (already at 12.1% in Q [uarter]1) and rapidly rising price levels.”

Analysis/Israel Signals Lull in Syria Strikes Is Over, Resuming Military Action Against Iran
عاموس هاريل من الهآررتس: إسرائيل تعطي أشارات إلى جمود في غاراتها على سوريا واعادة تنفيذ عملياتها العسكرية ضد إيران

Amos Harel/Haaretz/September 05/18
Airstrike attributed to Israel and threats made by its leaders suggest Israel may respond to any danger – even if it means deviating from deals made with Moscow.
The latest series of reports from Syria are somewhat foggy. At first came the report of a pre-dawn aerial assault Sunday near the Damascus international airport, attributed to Israel. The Syrian regime, which over the past two years has admitted relatively openly to Israeli strikes (even when Israel itself tried to remain ambiguous), this time claimed an electrical short as the cause of the explosions.
The explosions, in what was described as a weapon storehouse, were heard clearly throughout Damascus, but unlike previous strikes, no Syrian anti-aircraft fire was documented, either at planes or at missiles.
But if the report of an aerial assault in the Damascus area sounded a bit dubious, on Monday it was joined by another report, this time of an attack on a convey of Iranian forces and Shi’ite militias, bombed near the American base near the enclave of Al-Tanf in southern Syria. Eight people were reportedly killed In that incident, including Iranian fighters and militiamen. In the past such aerial bombings on convoys in this area were attributed both to Israel and to the United States. This is the road by which convoys bring fighters and weapons from Iran and Iraq and from there to Syria and Lebanon.
The east-west land corridor that Iran has been trying to strengthen over the past two years is now drawing more international attention. Just last weekend Reuters reported on an Iranian move to transfer medium-range missiles to Iraq, apparently as an interim area between Iran itself and its weapons stores in Syria, which are frequently bombarded by Israel.
Senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have over the past few days gone back to expressing themselves publicly about the Iranian presence in Syria. Against the backdrop of visits by American envoys to Israel and of senior Iranians in Syria, it was once again reported that Israel is not entirely happy with the arrangement with Russia to keep Iranian forces in Syria away from Israel’s border. Moscow has kept its pledge to move the Iranians a distance of 85 kilometers (and according to another version, 100 kilometers) from the border with Israel in the Golan, but this pledge does not include Damascus.
The bottom line of the recent developments is that the brief interlude in the fighting on the Syrian border is apparently over. The period between February and July, during which Iranian action in Syria increased and following the re-taking of the Syrian Golan by the Assad regime, saw a great many incidents, some of which involved “leaking” of fire or aircraft from Syria into Israeli territory. But in recent weeks, after Assad completed his takeover of southern Syria, relatively quiet has prevailed.
And now it seems that Israel is signaling that it has gone back to operations as usual. As long as it identifies a danger, which to Israel also means deviating from understandings with the Russians, Israel reserves the right to respond. That is what Lieberman said yesterday in an interview in the framework of the Israel News Companies’ “influencers” conference.
Lieberman makes his choice
Meanwhile, the defense minister is considering the upcoming appointment of the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. Last week, in an unusual step, Lieberman told the daily Yedioth Ahronoth that he had already decided who will be the next chief of staff. He was keeping the name to himself. Only after the High Court of Justice hears a petition Thursday against the composition of the committee that decides senior government appointments, and hopefully issues a ruling, will Lieberman make public the names of the two final candidates. These will be his candidate and one other, in the unlikely event that the first appointment is struck down by the committee for ethical reasons.
On Monday, rather disingenuously, Lieberman confirmed that he had indeed decided on the appointment but because his memory “at my age is not great,” he couldn’t remember “at this second” who the man is. What is the logic in leaving four candidates in suspense and keeping the information to himself? The defense minister was not asked and did not say. In the army, meanwhile, they are analyzing the texts of these interviews as if they were intelligence data. From the few hints dropped by the defense minister, it emerges that he’s looking for an officer who will convey to him that the IDF under his command will be able to win wars, lead a revolution in the ground forces and will not bother him too much about strategic imperatives.
Not that anybody knows for sure, but as was reported last month, most members of the General Staff believe that the two names to be submitted to the committee will be Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi (the current deputy chief of staff) and Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon. If Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former military secretary, reaches the final lap, it will be perceived as the result of pressure brought to bear by the prime minister himself.
As for the fourth candidate, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, he sounded on Monday like someone who has been relieved from the pressure of the competition (not that this bothered him very much in the past). In a speech to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Golan said: “Anyone who has dealt with combat understands that wars cannot be won only through intelligence and precise fire. Technology alone apparently will not win wars.” That is, the IDF needs to improve its ground maneuvering, an issue that is now under extensive discussion by experts.
Golan had a surprise ready for anyone who expected him to be careful of examples from a certain period of history. In wartime, he said, Israel needs “leadership like that of Winston Churchill in World War II.” It seems that this statement, at least, won’t turn Netanyahu against him, considering the prime minister’s well-known admiration for the British leader.

Turkey Missed Its Chance to Stop This Emergency
Marcus Ashworth/Bloomberg/September 05/18
At least Turkey’s central bank can spot an economic crisis. But it’s hard to believe that officials are going to take serious action to stop it. Consumer price inflation accelerated to the fastest rate in 15 years, at 17.9 percent, data on Monday showed. And this does not look to be the top of the cycle. Producer prices, which usually lead consumer prices, rose 6.6 percent in August alone, pushing the annual rate above 32 percent. Core CPI rose to a record 17.2 percent annual rate. The central bank, unusually, issued a statement noting “significant risks” to price stability, and said policy would be “adjusted” at the Monetary Policy Committee’s Sept. 13 meeting. Finance Minister Berat Albayrak was swift to respond to the data, saying an “all-out fight against inflation is needed,” Haberturk reported.
But he also said that short-term inflation spikes are “normal.”
A PPI rate that has more than doubled since the start of the year isn’t normal. And anyway this isn’t a spike; it’s a long-term trend. More to the point, if the economy faces a significant risk from rising prices, delaying action is harmful. Until officials get control of the currency, they’ll never be able to control prices. At this point, bond and currency markets have lost all faith in the independence of monetary policy — but an emergency rate increase would at least show that the central bank is serious, instead of reacting to events. It’s hard to see the benefit of keeping to the six-weekly schedule of policy decisions when the lira and prices are this far out of control.
Investors have been here before, and they’ve been disappointed. Albayrak and his father-in-law, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both promised before the central bank’s July 24 meeting that they’d do what was needed to stabilize the economy and control inflation.
Traders were sorely disappointed when the central bank left its official policy rate, the one-week repurchase rate, unchanged at 17.75 percent. Since then, the lira has lost about a third of its value against the dollar.
The real economy is taking the hit. The state pipeline company, Botas, raised natural gas prices by as much as 14 percent over the weekend, on top of an increase it had made the previous month. The contraction in manufacturing deepened, with the August purchasing managers index dropping to 46.4 from 49. A measure of new orders, which indicates the direction of travel for factories, declined to 44 from 46.6.
It’s difficult to predict what exactly the central bank should do, since officials are perpetually changing which of their three benchmark rates is the focus of their actions. But really, whichever rate they pick needs to be at least 300 basis points higher than what it was in July.
Could This Be Turkey's Benchmark Rate (Again)?
They could well leave the one-week repurchase rate unchanged — they’ve already lost focus on this, given that the bank has suspended weekly auctions. So the overnight borrowing rate of 19.25 percent has become the de facto market benchmark — the higher rate here makes it more expensive to short the lira. Policy makers could also hone in on the late liquidity window, the penal rate for emergency bank borrowing, which is now at 20.75 percent, as they did earlier in the year. Just as important as any one-time rate hike is the statement that accompanies it. The central bank has to pledge it will continue to lift rates until there is clear evidence that inflation is under control. An emergency rate hike would have gone a long way to making that case. Equally significant is the government’s medium-term fiscal plan due this month. Anything other than the spending restraint that Erdogan has pledged will be hugely disappointing.
The all-out fight the Turkish government has is to convince investors it is serious about salvaging the economy and prepared to ditch the economic theories that got it into this mess in the first place. The lira weakened by more than 1 percent on Monday, a sign that, despite the rhetoric from the central bank and finance minister, investors are not convinced that officials will really be allowed to do what’s needed.

Journalist Paralyzed, Gravely Ill in Turkish Prison
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/September 05/18
Medeni Duran wrote that his imprisoned brother Metin "cannot walk, speak, or eat and does not recognize anyone anymore. He can only breathe."
Mistreatment and even torture of journalists and media employees, along with arbitrary arrests, are getting alarmingly commonplace in Turkey.
At least 183 journalists and media workers in Turkey in are being held, either in pretrial detention or serving a prison sentence, according to the Platform for Independent Journalism.
Metin Duran, a paralyzed and gravely ill journalist, remains in Turkish prison. (Image via Platform for Independent Journalism)
Dissident journalists and writers in Turkey increasingly face government threats and arbitrary arrests for their work and opinions, but for Metin Duran, the punishments have been even more grotesque.
Duran, 37, has been jailed on terrorism-related charges in Sincan Prison, near Ankara, since March 30, 2018. But he is not aware of where he is or what the court decided about him.
A former journalist for Radyo Rengin, a radio station in the city of Mardin in southeastern Turkey, Duran lost part of his memory, along with his ability to walk and speak, after a stroke that followed a heart attack on October 10, 2015. Yet despite these crippling disabilities, he was sent to prison on March 30 and remains there, the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported.
Ahmet Kanbal, the journalist who covered Duran's imprisonment for Mezopotamya, told Gatestone:
"Duran's trial got started in 2015 and lasted for more than a year. He was eventually sentenced to a prison term of three years, one month, and fifteen days. His lawyer then appealed to the Supreme Court; this proceeding also lasted for more than two years. When Duran's punishment was finally approved, he was arrested on his sickbed on March 30."
Duran's radio station was shut down by emergency decree following an attempted coup in 2016 against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Two days after his arrival at Sincan, he was placed in the prison hospital due to his severe illness. His brother Zeydan Duran is also present in the prison, to care for him. (Zeydan has not been convicted of any crime.)
Duran's family has appealed all the way to Turkey's Constitutional Court to get him out of prison, but authorities demand the family get a medical report from the country's Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) to prove that Duran is "medically unfit for prison." The family is still waiting for the Council report.
Duran's case is bizarre, but he is far from the only journalist imprisoned in Turkey. At least 183 journalists and media workers in are being held, either in pretrial detention or serving a prison sentence, the Platform for Independent Journalism, P24, reported on August 17.
"Turkey is the world leader in prosecuting and jailing journalists and media workers," according to a 2018 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report issued last February.
"Turkey has a long tradition of misusing the criminal justice system and overbroad terrorism laws to prosecute journalists, activists, and other government critics," Human Rights Watch (HRW) added in a March 2018 blog post about Erdogan's post-coup crackdown. "Prosecutors have repeatedly applied articles of the law such as, 'inciting hatred and enmity among the population,' and 'spreading terrorist propaganda' to intimidate and silence peaceful dissent both on- and offline."
Another Turkish Penal Code article -- "committing crimes on behalf of an organization without being a member of that organization" -- is also commonly used to target journalists and writers; Duran was convicted of a charge under that article too. Under this law, defendants are prosecuted as if they were actually fighting the state as armed "members" of terrorist organizations.
"Terror doesn't form by itself. Terror and terrorists have gardeners," Erdogan has said in justification of his actions. "These gardeners are those people viewed as thinkers. They water ... from their columns on newspapers. And one day, you find these people show up as a terrorist in front of you."
When jailing journalists is not enough, the government closes their workplaces down. In all, 131 media outlets were shut down by emergency degree following the July 2016, attempted coup. Those included news agencies, TV channels, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, printing houses and distribution companies.
On July 30, more media outlets – 12 TV channels and 11 radio stations - were shuttered.
Along with arbitrary arrests, mistreatment and even torture of journalists and media employees are getting alarmingly commonplace in Turkey.
For example, four Turkish journalists faced "torture and threatening and abusive behavior in detention" after a bomb attack on August 10, 2016 in the province of Diyarbakır, according to the International Federation of Journalists.
"As soon as we said that we were journalists, the scale of the profanity changed and we were subjected to verbal and physical abuse," said Serpil Berk, Evrensel and Hayatın Sesi TV Diyarbakır correspondent, one of the detainees.
Hasan Akbaş, who also works for Evrensel and Hayatın Sesi TV, said the prisoners' hands were cuffed behind their back as a policeman "endlessly shouted, 'Shoot anyone who raises their head.'"
Hayatın Sesi TV was shut down. The four journalists were lucky: after a campaign for their release they were freed.
Duran's friends have launched a social media campaign seeking his immediate release from prison. Another of his brothers, Medeni Duran, has started an online petition calling for Duran's release. Medeni wrote that his imprisoned brother Metin "cannot walk, speak, or eat and does not recognize anyone anymore. He can only breathe.
"My brother is paralyzed and confined to bed. His continued imprisonment is an assault against his right to life and means he is being left to death intentionally. We as his family members are worried and ask for his immediate release."
Metin Duran is mute; the international community -- especially human rights groups -- need to be his voice and urgently start campaigning for his freedom.
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist from Turkey, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Missing in Action: The American Flag on the Moon
David C. Stolinsky/Gatestone Institute/September 05/18
Ryan Gosling admits he sees things as a Canadian. So it is all right for Gosling to see himself as a Canadian, but it is not all right for Neil Armstrong to see himself an American?
During the Second World War, Oskar Schindler escaped the clutches of the Gestapo by claiming that "his" Jews were doing essential war work. But Schindler also did something that, had it been discovered, he would have been tortured and executed. He stole guns and gave them to "his" Jews, so that they could defend themselves.
The film "Schindler's List" ran 3 hours 15 minutes, yet somehow there was no time to include this incident. An anti-gun agenda was apparently more important to the filmmakers than the depiction of this dramatic and revealing incident.
Rewriting history and erasing images are symptoms of budding totalitarianism. The moon landing was "one giant step for mankind." Omitting the planting of the American flag is another small step away from freedom and toward totalitarianism. Totalitarians do not really care whether you believe their lies. If you do, you help to maintain their power. If, however, you do not believe the lies, yet are forced to repeat them, you admit that you have sold your mind -- and perhaps your soul.
In a photo taken by Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969, Armstrong's fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the U.S. flag on the moon. Aldrin's fingertips are visible on the far side of his faceplate.
We learn both from what we see and from what we do not see: this is especially true if we do not see something because it was intentionally deleted. This tells us something about those who deleted it. They considered it so important that they went to the trouble of trying to erase it from our national consciousness. Why? What was so contrary to their value system that they found it intolerable?
The photo above is one of the most famous images in history. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on the moon: planting the American flag on the moon was an iconic event. I would bet serious money that the great majority of people in the world can identify that photo. But not Hollywood. The scene was omitted from the movie "The First Man".
Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, claims that Armstrong did not see himself as an American hero. Like Medal of Honor recipients, he did not see himself as a hero, but he surely saw himself as an American. As 95-year-old Chuck Yeager says, "That's not the Neil Armstrong I knew."
Gosling admits he sees things as a Canadian. So it is all right for Gosling to see himself as a Canadian, but it is not all right for Neil Armstrong to see himself an American?
The missing prayer
Todd Beamer was a passenger on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001. What happened was verified by the telephone company supervisor with whom he spoke. They recited the Lord's Prayer together, and he made her promise to tell his wife and sons he loved them. He then said his timeless words:
"God help me. Jesus help me. Are you ready? Let's roll!"
Beamer played a key role in the passengers' revolt against the terrorists. As a result, the airliner crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, and not into the Capitol Building or the White House. It was an act that saved many lives. Revealingly, his timeless words were omitted from the film "United 93." Hollywood does not like to say anything positive about Christians, even if it is historically accurate.
The missing phrase
In the film "Pearl Harbor," Jon Voigt gives a fine performance as President Roosevelt asking Congress for a declaration of war against Japan in the "Day of Infamy" speech. The screen version follows the actual speech, but with a major omission. Roosevelt declared:
"With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounded determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph − so help us God."
The film version omitted "so help us God." What was the problem with those four words? Or rather, what was the problem with that one word? When people are frightened of dying, or of their loved ones dying, many pray to God. The screenwriters apparently would not. But why pretend that others would not?
Why construct an artificial world where nobody is religious? Why not depict the real world as dramatically as possible? Is a romantic ideological agenda more important than an accurate and dramatic film?
The missing couple
The 1997 film "Titanic" includes many dramatic scenes. But one verified scene was omitted.
Among the passengers were Isidor and Ida Straus. Straus was co-owner of Macy's Department Store. Once it was clear the ship was sinking, the Strauses went to the lifeboat deck with their newly hired English maid. Mrs. Straus refused to get into the lifeboat without her husband, saying, "I will not be separated from my husband; as we have lived, so will we die, together."Mrs. Straus gave her fur coat to her maid as the maid boarded the lifeboat, explaining that she would not be needing it. The couple was last seen on the boat deck, together. Mr. Straus's body was recovered later; his wife's was not.
The 1953 film "Titanic," does include a moving scene of Mr. and Mrs. Straus. But the makers of the 1997 film just could not find the time in 3 hours 15 minutes to show this touching and verified event. In fact, the scene was filmed, then cut out, even though it lasted only 24 seconds. Was this latent anti-Semitism? Was it a simple oversight? Or was it that marital devotion was thought to be passé? Who knows? In the 1953 film, when the lookouts sighted the iceberg, one crossed himself and said, "Jesus, Mary!" In the 1997 film, one said, "Bugger me!" No one is sure what the lookouts really said. But can upgrading special effects make up for a deteriorating invocation?
The missing guns
In the film "Schindler's List," Liam Neeson gives an outstanding performance as Oskar Schindler, a womanizing, hard-drinking German who was a Nazi Party member. Yet during World War II, he saved about 1,200 Jews.
Schindler escaped the clutches of the Gestapo by claiming that "his" Jews were doing essential war work. But Schindler did something that could not have been explained away. Had it been discovered, he would have been tortured and executed. He stole guns and gave them to "his" Jews, so that they could defend themselves. The film ran 3 hours 15 minutes, yet somehow there was no time to include this incident, which would have taken perhaps a minute. An anti-gun agenda was apparently more important to the film makers than the depiction of this dramatic and revealing incident.
To believe that today's Americans should not have guns is illogical. Careful studies show that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns reduces the rate of violent crime. But to believe that Jews during the Holocaust should not have had guns borders on being delusional, even genocidal.
The guns were stolen twice -- by Schindler to help the Jews, and by the filmmakers to further their sentimental agenda.
The missing heroes
If you depended on the mainstream media, you never would have heard of even one of the 19 recipients of the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan or Iraq. Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse? On the front page of the New York Times for 32 consecutive days. But courage and sacrifice by our troops? Positive role models for young people? Honoring those who defend our freedoms, including freedom of the press? It may not be interesting to the media. But it is remarkable and motivating to us.
The missing corpses
Whether America should make reparations for slavery is a subject that exacerbates the debate on race. But the question implies something untrue − that no reparations have yet been paid.The total death toll for both sides in the Civil War was about 624,511. 364,511 men and boys, most of them white, died fighting for the Union. Approximately one in four Union soldiers who served died in the war. The total population of the Union was about 20 million. One-third of a million deaths was significant. In addition, all serious arm or leg wounds were treated by amputation. Veterans on crutches or with pinned-up sleeves were likely a common sight on American streets for many decades . If all those severed limbs, and all the blood that soaked into the earth from the dead and wounded do not constitute reparations, nothing ever could. Yet these facts are rarely mentioned when the subject of reparations is raised. Why? Are the dead and wounded unimportant? Or are they merely non-lucrative?
The missing communists
In the Soviet Union, Stalin feared rivals, so he had associates shot or sent to Siberia. He also had them removed from history books and airbrushed out of photographs. In a notorious case, associates were deleted one by one until only Stalin remained:
Rewriting history and erasing images are symptoms of budding totalitarianism. The moon landing was "one giant step for mankind." Omitting the planting of the American flag is another small step away from freedom and toward totalitarianism.
Totalitarians do not really care whether you believe their lies. If you do, you help to maintain their power. If, however, you do not believe the lies, yet are forced to repeat them, you admit that you have sold your mind ‒ and perhaps your soul. We should not sell ours either.
You want to see "The First Man"? Go ahead. Enjoy the popcorn. It is as healthy for your body as the movie is for your mind. I'll stay home and watch "Lone Survivor," "American Sniper," or "The 15:17 to Paris." Maybe I'll watch all three. And then I'll watch the scene from "The Pacific" in which the widow of John Basilone gives "Manila John's" Medal of Honor to his parents. Some memories are too strong to be erased by anyone.
*Dr. David C. Stolinsky, a retired physician, is based in the US.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Trump gives Iran the opportunity to set a new direction
Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/September 05/18
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani chose to call for unity in a recent televised speech in a bid to answer his critics over the failure of his government to confront the country’s economic meltdown, which followed the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the reimposition of sanctions that are likely to cripple Iran’s oil sector from early November. Rouhani then failed to appease the Iranian Parliament when he was questioned last week, with members choosing to ignore his justifications for the government’s helplessness as it faced adversity internally, regionally and internationally, as he described it.
Parliament’s sacking of Rouhani’s Labor Minister Ali Rabiei and Finance Minister Masoud Karbasian was not enough for the legislators to try to appease a public that has grown impatient at rapidly rising food prices, a dramatic currency collapse and the reimposition of US sanctions. Many Iranians are in a bleak mood and have not hesitated to shout slogans condemning Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iran’s political class as a whole in protests in more than 80 cities.
Rouhani also hinted at bigger issues that need to be addressed with a cryptic statement that said: “No one can walk into the sea and not expect to get his feet wet.” Many believed that he was pointing to the damaging policy choices made by the regime’s religious establishment, especially since businesspeople in Iran have long been frustrated by other deep-rooted problems, such as the debt-ridden banking sector and the outsized and opaque economic role of military-linked organizations, who many in Iran believe are the source of the country’s ills.
The Iranian regime has, for four decades, been flouting international laws everywhere it sets foot. It began its existence by breaking the most basic laws of international diplomacy when holding US diplomats hostage for 444 days at the start of the revolution, and it has never abandoned such practices.
US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal could offer Iran a chance to review its policies, which have long harmed its economy and society alike.
For its citizens, the regime is in the midst of a revolution 40 years after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, which has failed to provide stability in a society that has grown poorer, more likely to be unemployed, with a failing currency, and faced with rampant corruption at institutional levels, not to mention the constant deficiency of the regime in upholding its citizens’ basic rights.
The threat of Iran’s pledge to export its revolutionary system of government has not ceased to irk everyone in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Tehran’s regime has been true to its basic manifesto and, 40 years on, many of the country’s military leaders boast that they now control four Arab neighboring capitals; namely Baghdad, Beirut, Sanaa and Damascus. This has been achieved through propping up local groups like Hezbollah, the Houthis and Hamas, among others. Evidence has circulated that Iran has been encouraging the Houthi militia to target Saudi Arabian cities with ballistic missiles launched from inside Yemen, as well as attempt to disrupt maritime shipping in the Gulf and the Bab Al-Mandab Strait.
Internationally, Iran’s regime has been directly or indirectly involved in hostage taking, assassinations, the bombing of the US Embassy in Lebanon in the 1980s, and the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina in the 1990s. These examples are just a sample of the regime’s violent record. In recent years, including as the finishing touches were being put to the long-awaited nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration, Iranian-American dual nationals were imprisoned in Tehran on espionage and various other charges, and were used as pawns in the final deal negotiations. More recently, Belgium, Germany and France foiled an attempt to assassinate opposition figures from the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran at their annual rally in Paris. A diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna was arrested on suspicion of having instigated the plan.
With such a record — that the clergy-led regime of Tehran obviously denies — Iran made the unusual step of calling on the International Court of Justice to adjudicate against the unilateral imposition of sanctions by Washington. This Iranian embrace of international law is a first, and one would hope this could present an opportunity for Tehran to rejoin the international legal frameworks that help settle disputes between nations.
Iran’s revolution will be 40 years old next year and, as the saying goes, “all revolutions devour their own children.” The Islamic Republic of Iran has been devouring its children and its neighbors’ sons and daughters for four decades without any sign that the revolutionaries are about to hang up their gloves.
Critics say Tehran squandered the opportunities presented by the 2015 nuclear deal by limiting discussions to technical aspects that limit its ability to develop a nuclear weapon for the next 10 to 15 years. In 2015, Iran refused to discuss its revolutionary policies, its support for terrorism, proxy wars, and its meddling in other countries’ internal affairs. The regime even failed to benefit from the deal, as it failed to tackle the high rates of inflation, joblessness and corruption that are rampant within the country.
US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal could therefore offer a renewed opportunity for Iran to set a new direction for its policies. Trump’s deal-making inclination should be embraced, and this could offer Iran a chance to review its policies, which have long harmed its economy and society alike.
*Mohamed Chebaro is a British-Lebanese journalist broadcaster with more than 25 years’ experience covering war, terrorism, defense, current affairs and diplomacy.

Israel’s threat and the birth of a Baghdad government
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Arab News/September 05/18
I suspect that had the parliamentary elections in Iraq been held last year, Iran would have easily imposed its choices for prime minister and the government. Fortunately for the Iraqis, however, things have developed, internally and externally, against the wishes of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who regards himself the governor of the Fertile Crescent. Moreover, the Americans and their important allies have been active this year, dealing with the elections as a serious matter that needs to be monitored to counterbalance the Iranian pressure. The Israelis also have entered the game in their own way, threatening to bomb Iran’s military presence in Iraq regardless of the consequences. In any case, it seems that the elected Iraqi MPs who are willing to stand against the ambitions of the Iranian regime now form the majority in the Iraqi Parliament. More than 171 MPs have joined the Sa’irun moderate parliamentary bloc, led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, making it bigger than the “Iran-affiliated” bloc led by Nuri Al-Maliki and Hadi Al-Amiri.
The regime in Tehran intends to use Iraq as a 'confrontation state,' in other words a sandbag to hide behind on the line of fire against the US and its allies. It is natural, therefore, for Tehran to be shocked by the developments. It had considered Iraq a more secure “client state” than Syria and Lebanon, but now it can see its political, security and military investment evaporating before its eyes. We should not forget, either, that Iran credits itself with liberating Mosul from Daesh and saving Baghdad from collapse at the time.
Not surprisingly, Sky News Arabia reported yesterday that some Iraqi deputies have received death threats from the Iranians if they support the Sa’irun bloc. Thus, it is enough to read the statements and news from Iranian institutions to recognize the extent of the anger in Khamenei’s court. All of its reactions portray the rise of Sa’irun an American conspiracy and refuse to respect the choices of the people's representatives.
As for Israel, it is clear that its statements are threats aimed at Iran and at any future Iraqi government that might think of bowing to Tehran’s demands. Israel has warned the next Iraqi government that hosting Iranian missile batteries “fleeing” from Syria into Iraq will invite attacks by Israeli fighter-bombers, which will not be deterred by the issue of sovereignty from seeking out and bombing these weapons. Is Israel serious in its threat? Is it aware that Iraq, unlike Syria, is an independent, stable state? Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, talking about the possibility of bombing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, hinted that “we are not limiting ourselves to Syrian territory. That should be clear.” The same threat was reiterated by the deputy chief of the general staff of the Israel Defense Forces.
It is clear to everyone that Iraqis are deciding the future of their country and the future of their children, not just the choice of government and premiership. The rise of any pro-Iranian group would make this great country, which has suffered so much, an easy target for a system that is living through its darkest days.
The regime in Tehran intends to use Iraq as a “confrontation state,” in other words a sandbag to hide behind on the line of fire against the US and its allies. It also wants Iraq to launder Iran’s dollars and buy its goods with the Iranian rial. Furthermore, the Iranian regime wants to use Iraq to smuggle goods, break the sanctions imposed on it, and use its water to alleviate the crisis being experienced by the residents of the Iranian countryside because of the regime’s bad development policies and its waste of Iran’s savings in the wars in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
Indeed, the Tehran regime wants to turn Iraq into another Lebanon, in which its militias, such as the Iraqi Hezbollah, are active and fight on its behalf, just like the Houthis in Yemen.
Everybody is now waiting for the Iraqis’ crucial decision, which will mean much not only to their own country, but to the entire region.
*Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed

Russia flexes muscles with post-World Cup ‘uncoiling’
Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/September 05/18
Seven weeks after the FIFA World Cup concluded in Russia, Moscow is “uncoiling” in several strategic directions simultaneously. This is a term used to describe moving from a curled position to straight and can be applied to inanimate or animate objects. In the context of Russian foreign policy, the term has been used to denote the Kremlin’s strategic actions. In the wake of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russia’s “Novorossiya” experiment in Eastern Ukraine erupted violently, with Moscow uncoiling after another major international sporting event.
In the wake of the 2018 World Cup, Moscow’s military and naval activity is at an all-time high across a broad swath from Eurasia to the Mediterranean Sea. Russia uncoiling across a number of different theaters is a display of armed forces prowess. Optics are important for Moscow and there is much to see in terms of displays. More interesting, however, are the strategic and tactical aspects of what is uncoiling.
Vostok 2018, scheduled for Sept. 11 to 15, will see Russia host its largest military exercise since 1981. The war games in Siberia and the country’s Far East will involve nearly 300,000 troops, 1,000 aircraft, and vessels from the Vladivostok-based Pacific Fleet and the Barents Sea-based Northern Fleet. Some 900 tanks will also be mobilized for the exercise. In addition, China will participate in Russia’s Vostok exercises for the first time by sending helicopters and 3,200 troops, while Mongolia will send a smaller but balanced contingent. The Russian Pacific and Northern Fleets are equipped to carry nuclear weapons, which means that part of the exercise is to practice nuclear warfare operations. Importantly, China’s participation further illustrates a Russo-Chinese military alliance.
Simultaneously, Moscow is uncoiling by striking at Eastern Ukraine. Notably, military equipment destined for Vostok 2018 is being diverted toward the Russian-Ukrainian border, where Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, died in a blast a few days ago. Many see the assassination as a provocation for Russia to again enter Ukraine and take care of the Kremlin’s geographical necessity of capturing the Sea of Azov and the lands that feed water and electricity into the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia's post-World Cup uncoiling is aimed at extending Moscow's geostrategic reach from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
Full control of the Sea of Azov is a major strategic objective for the Kremlin. In March, Ukrainian authorities detained a Crimean-registered fishing vessel for illegally sailing in the Sea of Azov under the Russian flag and arrested its captain and crew — a move one Russian official likened to that of “Somali pirates.” Since then, Russia is claiming the Sea of Azov. In mid-May, following the Kerch Strait Bridge’s completion, Russia moved naval vessels, including warships, from its Caspian Flotilla to the Sea of Azov to step up security around the new bridge. The move only sought to further control maritime commerce and is evidence that Russia is aiming to annex the Sea of Azov. Moscow has detained more than 148 Ukrainian and foreign merchant ships and interrogated crew members and local shipping companies.
Uncoiling toward the Mediterranean Sea is another major strategic objective for the Kremlin, and it has been ongoing since the build-up to the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015. This week’s Russian naval exercises in the Mediterranean are the biggest such deployment since the end of the Cold War. The size of the naval force — with more than a dozen vessels including destroyers, frigates and submarines, some armed with Kalibr cruise missiles — demonstrates that this deployment is not only for military drills, but also optics. Russia aims to create a shield with its naval and air forces against possible strikes by the US and other air and submarine forces in the region. The move is to show that Russia is a strategic peer in the Eastern Mediterranean.
To be sure, Moscow’s exercise is part of the creation of a never-before-seen Russian Mediterranean Sea Fleet. Despite the fact that Russia needs more time to establish supporting infrastructure to sustain a permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea besides Syria’s Tartus port, it wants basing rights in Egypt and Libya to name just a few.
Decisively, Russia’s naval exercise is not only being conducted off the coast of Syria, but also off the coast of Egypt, directly over the Zohr natural gas field. Moscow is illustrating that it intends to protect Egypt’s natural resources in times of maritime insecurity and necessity.
Russia is using these uncoilings to arch its geostrategic reach from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean. Opening up before the Kremlin is not only an opportunity to partner with China in a large conventional and nuclear exercise, but also the chance to carve away at Ukraine and present the Russian Navy as a possible deterrent force against any Western alliance actions in the Mediterranean. In other words, Moscow is showing it can deploy vast numbers of personnel and equipment in various strategic directions.
Meanwhile, Russian military activity will occur at the same time as the Turkish, Russian and Iranian leaders convene in Tehran to discuss the Syria situation. Moscow is uncoiling rapidly.
*Dr. Theodore Karasik is a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, D.C. He is a former RAND Corporation Senior Political Scientist who lived in the UAE for 10 years, focusing on security issues. Twitter: @tkarasik

Will the Iranian regime survive people pressure, differences among officials?
Hamid Bahrami//Al Arabiya/September 05/18
In an article for Al Arabiya in August, I explained that Iran stands on the brink of a revolution. I highlighted two realities in the country to justify this conclusion. Firstly, the people of Iran are no longer able nor willing to live under the status quo and repression. Secondly, the ruling system, riddled with corruption, can no longer deceive people because of the growing domestic conflicts among the political establishment and is unable to reinstate the atmosphere of fear by its security organs because of losing ideological leverage. The removal and installation of several top officials last month with reports of President Rouhani facing serious challenges from within the theocratic establishment provide further proof of a deep split at the top of the ruling system. These moves to solidify ranks also testify to the fact that the theocracy is dealing with people who want to get rid of the regime. In a totalitarian state, there is a correlation between popular protests and internal fighting within the ruling establishment. During question time in the parliament last week, members rebuked the president and Rouhani pointed at the growing popular protests against the regime across the country. He confessed that “all of the country’s problems began on Dec 26, 2017, when a number of people poured into the streets and began and started chanting slogans”. In fact, such an extensive questioning of the president is very unusual in the Islamic Republic. However, both members of parliament and Rouhani avoided to explain and address the real root causes of the challenges facing the country. Apart from international isolation and popular pressure, the Iranian regime is facing an intense competition between branches of quasi-mafia holding power within the regime
Rouhani remarks
In the beginning of his remarks to the parliament, Rouhani acknowledged that the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had made some recommendations to him for the questioning session at the parliament. Khamenei and his faction are playing a “good cop, bad cop” role in order to weaken Rouhani in the ongoing internal conflict. But both sides know well that the main danger threatens the theocracy in its entirety. Members of parliament were never convinced by President’s answers. However, Khamenei praised Rouhani’s government a day later saying that “it is capable of managing the economy”.
In contrast, Khamenei’s faction in the parliament has so far removed two key ministers in the Rouhani’s cabinet for mismanaging the economy and is planning to do more. In reality, the Supreme Leader wants a weak and docile government, which he could use as a leverage to cope with domestic and foreign challenges. This also provides the Supreme Leader with the option of presenting himself as an opponent to the status quo if the situation deteriorates further. The other change is the paramilitary forces being under full control of Khamenei and responsible for defending his regime. The Supreme Leader recently dismissed several senior officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) replacing them with more obedient commanders. According to Voice of America (VOA), an Iranian police officer deserted his post and fled Iran to save his life, which was in danger as he refused orders to suppress anti-government protests that swept the country this year. Last week, Khamenei appointed Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri as the new commander of the IRGC navy, according to regime’s state media. The country’s top leader also appointed a new chief for the air force.
Needs of employees
The new chiefs have been urged to pay close attention to the livelihood and needs of employees. During the nationwide protests that began in January, there were multiple reports of greater dissatisfaction with internal conditions in the paramilitary forces, especially among the IRGC commanders and their families.
Apart from international isolation and popular pressure, the Iranian regime is facing an intense competition between branches of quasi-mafia holding power within the regime. During his impeachment process, Labor Minister Ali Rabiei, who is an experienced member of the regime’s intelligence apparatus, warned about the main threat to the regime. “I saw many crises during these 40 years. I remember that 12,000 militias (referring to the young members of opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI/MEK) were going to parade in Tehran’s street. We have lost our trust in society today”, Rabiei said in his remarks defending his position. But it is the nature of a totalitarian regime to quarrel over remaining wealth and power when its senior officials are sure about the imminent collapse of the ruling system. As the economic crisis in the country is getting worse and the regime is expected to face growing nationwide protests in the near future, the US should prepare to support the Iranian people. President Trump told Bloomberg in an interview that “when I came into here, it was a question of when would they (Iranian regime) take over the Middle East …Now it’s a question of will they survive. It’s a big difference in one and a half years.”The regime’s repressive forces have yet to lose control over the situation. Nonetheless, the recent change of IRGC commanders and the deepening fight between Iran’s theocratic leaders send a clear message to President Trump’s administration.
This message is clear – enhance pressure on the regime in Tehran, target its propaganda and sources of income, but “never interfere with an enemy while it is self-destructing”.

Has Turkey made a shift in Idlib?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 05/18
Idlib, that Syrian northern city that shares vast borders with Turkey (around 130 kilometers) and which is overpopulated due to displacement and the increasing number of those seeking refuge there as according to today’s estimates, the population there today is around 4 million people, may be the final chapter in the Syrian tragedy. Everyone knows that Iran, Russia and Bashar’s forces have for years adopted the approach of driving all armed Islamized factions, primarily Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda) and other armed wings in support of Turkey from Syria’s center, south and west towards the far north, Idlib. Everyone knew that this paves way to slaughter the fundamentalist sheep on the altar of political games which Turkey has participated in as much as Iran, and of course Russia.
American President Donald Trump’s warnings and threats against a tragedy in Idlib and a “reckless offensive” will not change the agreements reached by the Astana tripartite, Moscow, Ankara and Tehran, along with Bashar’s regime. They will meet next Friday to inaugurate the major offensive on Idlib.
The world and Syria will be much better in the absence of al-Julani, al-Nusra, ISIS and their likes but does launching the promised attack on Idlib mean eradicating the roots of the problem?
Alright, in order to be clear, al-Julani and his followers certainly deserve to wage war on and to be annihilated, as the case is with every takfirist terrorist and with ISIS, the Houthis, the Iraqi Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and the Lebanese Hezbollah.
The world and Syria will be much better in the absence of Gal-Julani, Al-Nusra, ISIS and their likes but does launching the promised attack on Idlib mean eradicating the roots of the problem and preventing the birth of a future environment that summons the likes of al-Julani, Adnani and these other sick men? This is another topic. Back to Idlib. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the situation in Idlib could not be tolerated “indefinitely.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the situation in Idlib as a time-bomb and warned – like the rest of the Europeans – of the West’s reaction to Bashar’s use of chemical weapons. Syrian Deputy-Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad reassured him during an interview with Syria TV and said: “Why would we use them? Normal weapons are enough!”
Has Turkey made a shift in Idlib?
A report published in Anadolu Agency, that’s close to the Turkish Erdogan authority, published a map that showed the powers in control of Idlib. According to it, there are two parties in Idlib, a party that Turkey is pleased with and another that Turkey is no longer pleased with and that is al-Julani’s group.
According to Anadolu’s report, the first party consists of the National Front for Liberation and is made up of around 70,000 fighters. It’s thus the largest opposition force against the Syrian regime.
The second party, al-Julani’s group (Tahrir al-Sham) which the UN blacklisted as a terror group (this was noted in Anadolu’s report) consists of around 25,000 fighters who control the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing with Turkey.
The Russians’ stance is not strange, the concealed international authorization mandating its war per the Russian way and Iran’s stance are also not strange but what’s strange is the Turkish beloved stance! A salutation to the poor and simple people in Syria and in the camps and diaspora.

Is Iran pursuing the breakup of the United Kingdom?
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/September 05/18
Among the hundreds of pages that Facebook has removed in its latest crackdown on political influence campaigns, there are at least two which were set up by Iran in order to promote Scottish independence and foment other forms of internal divisions within the UK: “Free Scotland 2014”, and “The British Left” – both dating back at least to 2014, to before the independence referendum.
Presumably this is not because they think independence would be good for the Scottish people. At the very least, it would be because in their estimation, the breakup of the UK would be catastrophic for the country’s standing in the world, and its ability to defend its interests and the interests of its people abroad.
And, of course, there is also probably a lot of historical spite going into it, from that time in 1953 when Winston Churchill orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh in Tehran.
Should anyone be surprised that this has been happening though? In the wake of Russia’s brazen campaign to sway the US presidential elections in 2016, and their subsequent attempts to do the same throughout Europe, these kinds of actions must be understood as a new norm of international geopolitical conduct. Nor are we in the West merely passive victims of this new trend. Regime-change has been a powerful tool of America’s informal empire since WW2, and fomenting local political divisions in order to further the political aims of external powers has been an approach perfected long before, in the 18th and 19th Century by the British and other European empires.
It would also be surprising to find that it was not the West who first pioneered the use of digital means to pursue these tactics.
That is a huge part of the reason for why Russia, Iran, China, and virtually any country outside the sphere of influence of the United States have tried to cordon off their internet and their internal flows of information from the mainstream internet, to the best of their abilities – with varying degrees of success.
Iran is just as willing to follow the Russian playbook toward the same ends, even though so far they have been rather less able to effect change in their own interests
Destabilizing Western discourse
But make no mistake about this. Russia is certainly winning on this particular battlefield at this moment in time, especially when it comes to their capacity to destabilize Western political discourse and the local, democratic political processes.
And Iran is just as willing to follow the Russian playbook toward the same ends, even though so far they have been rather less able to effect change in their own interests.
For its part, China has been, and continues to use the same technological means for their rather different political ends: they are in fact favourable to political stability in the West, but will happily plunder the West and the entire rest of the world for scientific, technological and industrial knowledge and techniques. But again, this is just the normal course of geopolitics in the new world of digital information flows. We must understand that of course Iran would seek to support internal divisions in the UK, including, the golden prize, Scottish independence. So would Russia. It is not by coincidence that Alex Salmond, the SNP’s former leader, and the foremost proponent of Scottish independence both in 2014 and now, has made such good friends with the Iranian regime and with the Russian regime respectively.
The Foreign Office during the Empire used to call such tactics “imperial policy”. In their current digital form, and along Soviet-style disinformation campaigns, the Kremlin today calls this “asymmetric warfare”, or alternatively “hybrid warfare”.
But any lover of peace must understand that countries like Russia, Iran, and potentially others, do think of themselves as being at war with us.
And if people who think of themselves as being at war with you support certain policies, such as Scottish independence, Catalan secessionism, right-wing nationalism, or Brexit, you might want to stop and ask yourself why they do this. Or indeed, why they then give you a platform on their state propaganda channels.